Welcome to the second The Digital Buzz! This is a series featuring inspiring educators and powerful learning tools from around the world. In this post, we are getting to know Brent Catlett and his amazing creation, EduHangout.org. Check out the video below and read my interview with Brent to learn how you can use this simple yet powerful website to get connected with other classrooms and teachers... a perfect companion to keep you going as Connected Educator Month comes to a close!
JM: Brent, thanks so much for joining us on Teaching Toward Tomorrow’s Digital Buzz. Let’s start off by having you tell everyone a little about yourself!
BC: I’m Brent Catlett from Bellevue, Nebraska - which is a suburb of Omaha. I am married to an amazing woman and educator. We have 4 kids, 3 boys & 1 girl. I work as an instructional technology trainer for my district. I have been in education 15 years and have taught a variety of grade levels as well as spent 6 years as a principal in 2 different buildings. I became a Google Certified Teacher & Trainer in 2012.
JM: Awesome - now can you tell us what EduHangout is exactly?
BC: Yes! EduHangout is a site I created called eduhangout.org for educators to start connecting their classrooms or themselves across the globe using the tool of Google Hangouts!
JM: How does it work?
BC: Essentially people just have to go to the site and get connected! There is a place for people to sign up via a Google form that then populates in a Google spreadsheet on the site. Technically speaking though you really do not have to sign up for anything; it’s just a place where you put yourself out there as someone who wants to connect via Google Hangouts. There is a page on the site for ideas on using hangouts, a resource page, a tips and tricks page, and a page that links to a Google Plus Community.
JM: Tell us more about the Google Plus Community.
BC: It is called G+eduhangout if you are searching for it and it is linked on the eduhangout.org site, but ultimately if you have been using Google Plus Communities you know how they work. To me, the community is where the connections and conversations can be easily made. Connecting your classroom or yourself as an educator can be as simple as posting something to that community.
JM: How did you come up with this amazing idea?
BC: My ideacame about as I started to use Google Hangouts more often to connect with educators I had met in New York at the Google Teacher Academy and others around the world. Then it hit me that I wanted to create a space where educators could experience what I was experiencing by connecting myself to so many awesome people that were inspiring me to do awesome things! It then continued to grow into potentially having people use the tool of Google Hangouts to connect not only themselves as educators, but their students as well.
JM: Since this month is Connected Educators Month, do you have any examples of powerful connections that have happened as a result of EduHangout?
BC: Well one example I personally involved in that I witnessed the impact on was a “share and compare” my students in Nebraska did with a friend in NYC & LA and their students. We used hangouts to connect our classrooms and share different things about our states and schools. The kids loved it and were begging for more.
Recently I noticed on the Google Plus Community that some Spanish was being written and I had to check it with Google Translate to make sure it was appropriate and of course it was, but it struck me because I was like this is awesome, they were from different countries with different languages starting to connect with each other.
I mentioned the idea was kind of born from Hangouts I was having with my #GTANY friends and still to this day, 1 year later, we have them periodically and I draw inspiration from all those people and there is something about the tool and seeing multiple people at once that can be so connecting, inspiring, and engaging!
JM: What’s next for eduhangout?
BC:I recently chatted with some Google folks from the NYC headquarters via Hangout in fact and they are exploring the idea of using Google Hangout for virtual field trips to all kinds of amazing places so I am excited to see how that will play out! They told me they are loving the way educators are embracing the tool and connecting on my site so they are trying to continue to make the tool better and more encompassing in its power! So the sky is the limit because in the future I am sure I will keep posting new ideas on how to use it as creative educators continue to use it and get their minds around how to use it!
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